My friend and I turn off the main road and start wondering if our navigation is wrong. It’s so secluded here — in a peaceful, part-of-nature kind of way, but still — it doesn’t feel like a retreat and restaurant could be nestled in this open bush.
With just five rooms, it really feels like you have the place to yourself, even if you’re just making a day visit for the onsite restaurant, Amara, like we were.
My friend and I are led to the balcony, sipping champagne while enjoying the birdcalls and the sweeping views until it’s time to move into the dining room for our degustation lunch.
Led by head chef Will Houia (who is also an absolutely delight), Amara creates a seven-course degustation every day for dinner ($125), and five courses for lunch from Friday to Sunday, which is what we were here for today.
They pride themselves on using the freshest organic and seasonal meat, cheese and hero produce all from the same region (in fact, most of it is sourced from within a one-hour drive radius). The food philosophy here is “a simple, ultimately natural approach to cooking”, and frankly it’s a good one.
We opted for a vegetarian five-course degustation for lunch for $105 (although you can also order outside of the degustation), and each course is amazing and totally unique — at least it is to me, someone who loves to eat but hates to chef. For example, my favourite course was hands-down the King Edward Potato Sandwich with sour cream and apple. It sounds batty, but the taste was *chef’s kiss*.
An exclusive retreat like this, with a degustation all in tiny tasting portion sizes, immediately made me assume it’d be a little bit, shall we say, snobby. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
It was truly the staff who made this experience, whether they were actually waiting on us or worked in the retreat and just crossed our paths. While being very respectful of your privacy, they’re super friendly and down to earth. It made the experience feel very cosy.
If you want to make it a full day of indulgence (and who could blame you), they’re currently running a $265 ‘Luxury Day Trip‘ deal which means you can enjoy a two-course lunch at Amara, then make use of Sangoma’s pool and sauna, as well as a 60-minute treatment at the on-site Spa Anise day spa.
I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be the chillest of all people by the time you’re done.
AWOL was a guest of Amara Restaurant.
(Lead image: provided by Spicers Sangoma Retreat)